OTTAWA – The Ottawa REDBLACKS are about start laying the foundation of their new club for years to come when they select a total of 24 players in the 2013 Expansion Draft on Monday.
Led by general manager Marcel Desjardins and newly-hired head coach Rick Campbell, the REDBLACKS will go through a three-round selection process where they will take one player from each of the other CFL member clubs in each round as they try and form a base for which their team will be build by.
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Headlines and Analysis
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» A closer look at the Expansion Draft
» Mock Protection Lists: Writers make picks
» Steinberg: Stamps need to protect Mitchell
» Ottawa continues Expansion Draft prep
» Ticats' Austin understands draft's importance
» Anticipation mounting for Lions
» Stampeders give Ottawa solid QB options
» Argos' Barker not losing any sleep
» Moffat: My advice to the REDBLACKS
» Draft shouldn't hurt Bombers too much
» Riders have balancing act ahead of Draft
» Which QBs should the Bombers protect?
» Als' Popp ready for what Ottawa has in store
» Exclusive 1-on-1 with Marcel Desjardins
» Analysis: A Look at the Quarterbacks
» Analysis: Building Non-Import Depth
» Expansion Draft a Recipe for Success?
Ottawa can select up to two quarterbacks and eight import players in Round 1 and eight non-imports in Round 2. An additional 8 non-imports will close out the Draft in Round 3.
Teams were able to submit a list of protected players last week to the CFL offices but could only protect one quarterback and a total of 16 players.
For more information on the Expansion Draft process, rules and policies, read CFL.ca's Closer look at the Expansion Draft.
Realistically speaking, the Ottawa REDBLACKS have a fairly good chance at landing a quarterback who can make the new team instantly competitive.
In an exclusive interview with CFL.ca, Desjardins said he “will certainly not select a free agent at the quarterback position” which likely leaves the likes of Toronto’s Zach Collaros and Hamilton’s Henry Burris out of the running (if left unprotected).
“The purpose of this is to stock our roster with players who have played in the league.” Desjardins continued. “It’s kind of obvious where our choices (at quarterback) would come from. Three or four teams have guys where we would want to take a quarterback from.”
It is tough to predict without knowing which team protected which quarterback but BC and Calgary seem to have of the deepest pivot pools in the league.
Calgary will be able to protect only one of Drew Tate, Bo Levi Mitchell and Kevin Glenn. Either Glenn or Tate give Ottawa an immediate proven starter whereas Mitchell could be a bit of a young project that Desjardins and his staff want to centre veterans at other positions around.
The Lions were likely to protect Travis Lulay, leaving the youngster Thomas DeMarco and the veteran Buck Pierce available.
For a full breakdown of which quarterbacks might be available and how they may fit into Ottawa’s plan, CLICK HERE.
Some may think that Desjardins has the easiest job of all the CFL general managers. GMs around the league went through dozens of mock drafts and differing scenarios to come up with the right blend of players to protect before submitting to Ottawa.
“The process of who you were going to protect started in 2012,” said BC Lions VP of football operations and GM Wally Buono. 2013, I don’t want to say verified some things, maybe altered slightly some other things.”
Buono said that part of the challenge is trying to anticipate both what Ottawa may want and who other teams may protect.
“You don’t know who is available to them,” said Buono. “If you look at it from the perspective of the imports, what do they you want in an import?
“Do you want the best player, do you want the best player that gives you leadership? I’m not building that team. I know if I was building that team I would have certain criteria.”
Toronto Argonauts general manager Jim Barker is a little more straight forward about the challenges that such a unique process presents.
“You don’t worry about what you can’t control," said Barker. “There are guys I don’t want to lose. But I don’t lose sleep over it because we did a great job, I think, in our preparation. We’ve come to the reality that what’s going to happen is going to happen."
Barker admitted what most assumed which was that he used his quarterback protection on Ricky Ray but what he really grappled with was how does he approach what’s best for his team as opposed to worrying about who Ottawa will pick.
“Do you protect the young player with potential, or the older player who is probably more developed right now but who may not have as long a time?" he asked, rhetorically.
Hamilton GM and head coach Kent Austin shared the thought that it is difficult to predict what other teams will do and just focus on damage control.
“You have to try to protect as best you can and try to anticipate, but we’re trying to limit the damage as much as possible,” he said.
A general manager with arguably the most unique challenge on his hands is Montreal Alouettes Jim Popp. Popp carried Desjardins under his wing for over a decade as the two worked alongside one another to build one of the league`s most dominant club’s in recent memory.
“Marcel knows our team better than any in the league and look who is working for him: Brock Sunderland, Jeremy Snyder, Chantal Covington all used to work with us. We shared a lot of information for years,” Popp explained.
“There’s nothing wrong with that...he knows us inside and out.”
“It’s an exciting time over there,” Popp says, enthused for his former football ops teammates. “They’ll have more pride in this team than anything they’ve worked on before.”